Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
1/28/2010
07:30 PM
Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin
Commentary
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The iPad: I Don't Get It

Good grief. Yesterday's breathless blogging would have you thinking the technology world has been changed forever with the new Apple iPad. So let me go on the record with a contrarian viewpoint. The iPad seems like an interesting device, but I can't see where it fits into most personal or business IT needs.

Good grief. Yesterday's breathless blogging would have you thinking the technology world has been changed forever with the new Apple iPad. So let me go on the record with a contrarian viewpoint. The iPad seems like an interesting device, but I can't see where it fits into most personal or business IT needs.First, let's be clear that the most interesting thing about this device is that it's made by Apple. The tablet form factor has been rattling around for a while, most recently as the HP tablet announced at CES. The hardware behind the iPad seems beautiful, as you'd expect from Jobs and his Cupertino team. The prices are typical Apple as well, starting at $500 and topping out at $829. Computing without a keyboard never cost so much.

Apple's iPad is, in essence, an overgrown version of the iPhone. It shares some of the same drawbacks, such as a non-swappable battery, missing Adobe Flash support and the lack of multitasking in the operating system. Given the popularity of the iPhone, perhaps Apple thought that the same software and business model was the winning combination for a tablet form factor. I think they are wrong.

I also have to wonder about the 1024x768 resolution. That's an old-school 4:3 screen dimension when an HD-friendly 1280x720 might have been a better choice. This is especially true if iPad users plan to view their favorite TV shows and movies. Don't plan on using it for video chats either, there's no webcam.

At the prices Apple is asking, many netbooks and notebooks are a better value -- if you can stand the thought of dragging that twentieth-century keyboard around with you. A MacBook or good PC notebook can perform a wider variety of tasks and runs a much more capable set of software. But of course, the promise is that the iPad will have a store filled with content that you just cannot get (legally and/or conveniently) on PCs. Maybe I'm an optimist, but I think that content providers can't hold out on us forever. It makes too much sense to have that content on both phones and PCs -- that's where the ears and eyeballs are.

There is no doubt that the iPad will find a market. I just don't think it comes close to justifying the hype we've heard these past couple of days. Who knows, maybe it's just me. A year from now when everyone is carrying around an iPad, you can all send me an email telling me how wrong I was.

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